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June 13 2011

02:13

Sarah Palin’s emails and a call for collaborative journalism

If you were committing an act of news on Friday, June 10, chances are every national news organization missed it.

Why? We all had boxes and boxes of printed emails of an ex-political official to go through. From the New York Times to Mother Jones/MSNBC/ProPublica, the Washington Post and my own employer – many national news sources spent enormous amounts [...]

May 02 2011

21:18

The Bin Laden story and real-time engagement

Please allow me to think aloud on the past 15 hours.

We all acknowledge that the news of Osama bin Laden’s death broke on social media. We’ve all got stories about Twitter’s impact, roundups of Twitter reactions, tweet timelines and Storification galore – but did anyone in the heat of the developing news last night start engaging readers on [...]

March 02 2011

04:46

Four key things TBD did right

Despite how it all ended, there are positive lessons to be gleaned from TBD's build, launch and brief life. Here's a few things I hope other news orgs won't shy away from trying in the future [...]

February 17 2011

04:05

Transcript: What does a social media editor do?

Here’s the transcript of my journalism jobs chat on Poynter.org Tuesday. There were a lot of great questions about what I do as a social media editor, the workflow, metrics, handling criticism and managing corrections.

We had more than 200 participants and more questions that I could get to in one sitting. If anyone has a question [...]

January 20 2011

21:07

January 07 2011

15:20

Ruling or no, always ask permission before re-using images on the social web

If you’re to believe Agence France-Press – and many journalists who I’ve personally met – “regular people” don’t have the same copyright protections on the web as journalists. This isn’t true and hasn’t been true – and I’m glad a court said so.

AFP tried to argue in court that by uploading his photos to Twitter/Twitpic, a professional photographer was giving them permission to use and repurpose them. Last week, a court in New York’s Southern District declared what many of us already knew – putting photos on TwitPic doesn’t just make it up for grabs.

When I tweeted about this, I had a couple of journalists tell me it didn’t protect Twitter users’ photos, just those of journalists. This is a pretty common assumption I hear around the web and in the newsrooms I’ve worked in, so I don’t feel too out of line pointing out Virginia journalist Jordan Fifer for this tweet:

  1. Jordan Fifer
    JordanFifer . @mjenkins News orgs have better case for "fair use" of Twitter pics if it comes from a layperson with no financial gain from the pic 30 Dec 2010 from web
-- this quote was brought to you by quoteurl

He said the ruling only protected professional photographers and that the Fair Use Doctrine protects news outlets who want to use Twitpics without permission. Not true on both counts, though the latter isn’t as cut-and-dried.

For one, the ruling said:

[b]y their express language, Twitter’s terms grant a license to use content only to Twitter and its partners. Similarly, Twitpic’s terms grant a license to use photographs only to Twitpic.com or affiliated sites. . . . the provision that Twitter ‘encourage[s] and permit[s] broad re-use of Content’ does not clearly confer a right on others to re-use copyrighted postings

While those terms may (and likely do) differ for other Twitter-related photo services, Twitpic’s terms state only Twitpic and its affiliates have a right to users’ photos:

…you retain all of your ownership rights in your Content. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business…

AFP is not an affiliated business with Twitpic, it is a user and has only an end-user license. All users who use this service, at least, own the copyright on their images. Other services, like YFrog, for instance, do allow all users to use and repurpose work uploaded to their servers.

The terms do not, however, differentiate between the copyright of a professional photographer and that of a non-professional.

Secondly, Fair Use gives news outlets a lot of leeway on using user content, but it can only go so far. To review, this bit of copyright law contains four factors that will help determine if unauthorized use of copyrighted material is fair:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

When you use a photo belonging to someone else on a website, on TV or in print, you are using the entire image (not a portion) and using it for profit (most of the time, if you are a for-profit news outlet). Chip Stewart, a journalism professor at TCU dismisses the Fair Use argument in social media images, saying:

Under the four-part balancing test applied by courts in looking at fair use, I don’t see how any one favors the republisher:  The use is for-profit, the entire photo is used, it most likely is a significant element of the news story, and it harms the market for the original copyright owner by giving away for free what the owner could legally sell.

So what can we conclude from all this?

1. Assume the users of social media services own the copyright on the work they produce and upload there. In most cases, only those social media services and those they work with generally the the right to use that content without permission.

2. …but users and outlets should check the terms of service on the photo services to see the specific copyright and use terms for each service. Professionals, news outlets and others with copyright concerns should take care to use a service that does not claim ownership of the images uploaded there.

3. Using these copyrighted photos without permission doesn’t fall under Fair Use.

4. No matter what the services’ terms may be, it’s always best to ask for permission before taking photos from the web and using them at your news organization.

5.  If you do ask for permission and get it, make sure the user is the one who actually took the photo. As it happened in the case described above (and is frequently the case on Facebook), the person displaying the image is not the one who owns the copyright.

December 29 2010

18:28
16:26

December 22 2010

16:49

Tumblr is ideal for spur-of-the-moment news projects

Tumblrs are showing up all over the news these days. From Politico to Pro Publica, The New Yorker and Newsweek – it’s become a popular platform for collecting links, images, quotes – pretty much whatever journalists find interesting that they can’t get into their regular stories and posts.

In experimenting with Tumblr for various possible future TBD projects, I’ve been astounded at how easy it is to kick off a theme blog. Aside from the 30 seconds or so it takes to set one up, if you have an idea in mind, you can populate it really quickly. Case in point: My coworker Jeff Sonderman said on Twitter Tuesday morning that he wished there were a Tumblr for holiday clichés. Within minutes, I had one set up and populated. It is now owning my life.

Tumblr says it is adding 25,000 new accounts daily, and each month it serves up 1.5 billion page views. Beyond the on-site following, Tumblr is effective for sharing short bursts of content across the web via social media.

Mark Coatney, who got Newsweek onto Tumblr (and now is employed by Tumblr), calls it “a space in between Twitter and Facebook.”

“People are creating identities and personalities that Facebook and Twitter are not designed to allow you to do,” he said.

And he’s right – you can be more conversational, collect and curate information like you would on Twitter, but the “fan” and following relationship is similar to that of Facebook.

So you want to get into Tumblr

There’s a lot of advice out there on Tumblr for news organizations, so I won’t repeat it.

The Atlantic offers “Five Keys to Tumblr for Media Outlets“, outlining the best parts of the tool for media orgs. Buzz Feed offers an epic collection of new Tumblrs for 2010, including a personal fave: Awkward Stock Photos.

Cory Bergman writes at Lost Remote that media might want to get into the space, but should be aware of the work involved in upkeep. “If you’re not going to keep it updated (or you’re going to abandon more critical efforts, like Facebook) — then perhaps just reserving a Tumblr name and letting it sit until you can give it the attention it deserves may be the more prudent approach.”

And in an oh-so-meta fashion. there’s a Tumblr outlining rules for using Tumblr aimed at “old and new media”.

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